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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Failure to Communicate

One major problem in the City of Troy has been a lack of communication.

Residents don't feel council and city management adequately inform them on various issues.
Council and city management don't feel residents are looking in the right places or reading what they do see. Recent polling and surveys show that what some feel are the BEST venues for messaging are the least watched/read.

And then there's the issue facing everything and everyone in Troy: the department responsible for much of the work of communicating has been all but eliminated. The Community Affairs department used to run a staff of about 4-5 employees. They took care of press releases, memos, contacting media, local cable, etc. -- all kinds of stuff we came to expect, read, consume and desire. We KNEW what was going on in Troy...we were well informed.

When the revenues fell and cutting started, that department was reduced to a 1/2 time employee.

You read that right...we have ONE PERSON working 1/2 time on Community Affairs issues for the city. That employee spends the other half of her time being shared with the Police Department and other areas of the city. That employee is doing the work of FOUR OR FIVE PEOPLE on a half-time schedule...or rather, NOT able to do the work of four or five people.

We are making do with less...for less. We are going from big city communications to small city information sharing.

Oh, sure, our loudest political naysayers will say, "Well, with technology, you can MAXIMIZE that employee! It doesn't take four or five people anymore!" But if the current data is to be trusted in any way, it's OBVIOUS there is no maximizing happening. Communication across all levels was one of the top things that kept coming up at community engagement sessions and in the customer survey poll.

So the city did what many businesses do when they need help but can't afford employees to fill positions: tried to hire a consultant. Consultants work on an as-needed basis and don't require the benefits of a full-time employee. It makes a lot of sense for the city to hire someone to handle some of what four or five individuals used to do.

At last night's council meeting, it was clear that we're not quite ready to hire someone YET...but we're on the right path. It will go out to bid, and a company who is a good fit for the city can begin working on a strategy.

Spending this money to provide ongoing communications with all stakeholders is wise. And the purpose is not only to keep everyone in Troy informed, it's to help present Troy in the best light to those OUT of Troy. After all, if we're not communicating what a great place we are (and can still be!), who would move here? Who would open (or keep) a business here?

Again, working on communications in Troy is wise...and hiring help to get it done is a no-brainer. In the meantime, let's help the city by sharing what we believe about Troy.

Stand up for your city...SAVE TROY.

1 comment:

  1. Use a computer to replace an employee? It will help them be an efficient and happy employee. Yes, technology can make ones job tasks and personal life easier. However, the aide received only goes so far. It still takes a human with the capacity that a human brain can produce to push the right buttons. The moral of the story is technology only helps the human. It does not totally replace him or her.
    Taking it a bit further, the words technology and human do not even share a common vowel. Come to think of it, they only share an "H" and a "N". Hmm. The two letters that bind the word "HumaN" together!